New charter school hosts open houses and orientation

FLINT TWP. — Rita Cheeks, superintendent of the Genesee STEM Academy, 5240 Calkins Road that is scheduled to open September 6, is reaching out to her new community.

Established four years ago in Flint, the charter school is moving into the former Congregation Beth Israel Jewish synagogue and will offer K-8 education this school year.

Speaking at the township board meeting, Cheeks said community outreach and forming partnerships is part of the curriculum. “We teach our students to give back,” she said, requesting the opportunity for projects involving senior citizens such as gardening in the school’s greenhouse. Cheeks also said she plans to attend the National Night Out event next month, a community bonding event hosted by the township police department.

Cheeks invited board members and the community to attend the Academy’s Enrollment & Back to School Rally from 11a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, August 27. Activities will include bounce houses, science activities, food, music and a chance to meet the school’s STEM certified staff.

STEM is the commonly used abbreviation for science, technology, engineering and math instruction being emphasized as a core curriculum. Genesee STEM Academy is a top tier K – 8 Charter School authorized by Saginaw Valley State University, according to its website. Pre-K is offered through the Genesee Intermediate School District.

Staff at all grades have aligned core curriculum outcomes in English/ Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies to meet prescribed measures of academic performance. The Academy is the first to be STEM-accredited in Genesee County, Cheeks said. It is adding eighth grade instruction this year and will add one grade level each year to ultimately become a K-12 program.

The 13-acre campus offers opportunities for outdoor science programs including a creek for water studies, land for gardening, and woods for animal study., Cheeks said, adding that the facility being supplied by “safe” township water is one of the school’s new location selling points.

The former synagogue had existing classroom space, a commercial-sized kitchen, a sanctuary that holds nearly 400, a social hall that also holds about 400, office, a library, conference rooms and paved parking for about 270 cars.

Building renovations delayed the first day of school this year but the Academy conducts a longer school year with classes beginning in mid-August. A daily schedule begins with breakfast at 7:45 a.m. Classes begin at 8:30 a.m. and dismissal is at 4 p.m. Each child has his or her own computer. A robotics program also is among school offerings.

The Academy is hosting an open house from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 30, and on Thursday, September 1. Also on those days, parent orientation sessions will be held from 10- 11 a.m. on Tuesday and 6-7 p.m. on Thursday.

Open enrollment is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 27, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on August 30 and September 1.

For additional information, call the school office at 810-600-6466.

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